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It is a known fact that no method of birth control is absolutely foolproof, and all it takes for someone to get pregnant is a single sperm! With that given, if you are someone who is sexually active, even a delay of a day or two in the arrival of your period can make you panic. The first thought one would have is probably that of a pregnancy. Whether or not you are hoping for it, you would definitely want to know what is going on with your body. And that is exactly what an at-home pregnancy test kit was invented for!
If you take a long look at the history of detecting pregnancies, you would find that the methods employed by people have been murky. In the past, physicians used a number of bizarre mechanisms ranging from testing pregnancy using wheat and barley to testing on animals. But owing to science and technology, gone are the times when people used unreliable methods to diagnose a pregnancy. In fact, detecting a pregnancy has become very easy with the invention of at-home pregnancy test kits, which were first launched in the markets in the 1970’s. Since then, women have been granted the freedom to find out on their own whether they are pregnant or not. These pregnancy test kits have freed women from the need to rush to a physician at the slightest hint of a potential pregnancy and enabled them to find out if they are pregnant in the privacy of their own homes. Since this method of pregnancy detection has gained favour from women all over the world and is widely in use, it is important for everyone to know about it in detail. Here are a few things you should know about pregnancy test kits before you use one-
1) How they work
All at-home pregnancy test kits work by detecting a hormone called human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) in the urine. This hormone is produced by the developing placenta after fertilization takes place. The fiber strip of the test is coated with a chemical that reacts with hCG to change colour and produce result. Here are a few tips that you should keep in mind while using hCG kits:
- An hCG kit should be stored between 4° C to 25° C for maintaining shelf life. Preferably, it should be refrigerated before use.
- It should be brought to room temperature before use.
- Some brands claim higher accuracy than the others, which might not be necessarily true. What does affect the quality of the pregnancy test kit is the way it is stored. The result will not be accurate if the kit is faulty, damaged or expired. Thus, it is advised that you buy the kits from a store that actively sells and restocks pregnancy test kits.
2) There is a slight chance of inaccuracy
Most pregnancy test kits claim to be about 99% accurate. However, under certain conditions, the results might be imprecise. There can be two case scenarios when it comes to inaccurate results; it could either be a false positive or a false negative. The latter out of these two is more likely to happen. For example, if you are testing too early in your pregnancy, the kit might say ‘negative’ even if you actually are pregnant. This might happen due to the fact that that your hCG levels are not high enough to be detected. Also, consumption of excessive amounts of fluid before testing may dilute the urine, producing inexact result. To avoid these kinds of situations, it is advised that you take the test a day or two after the missed period, since the hCG levels would have risen to a detectable point.
False positives occur very rarely. These might occur in the case of ‘biochemical pregnancy’ wherein the chemical imbalance in the body causes the hCG levels to rise and give the false impression of a pregnancy. Similarly, ‘ovarian tumour’ can cause the secretion of hCG which can be the reason behind a false positive test result. In some cases, false positives can occur in the case of early miscarriage of pregnancy wherein traces of hCG would be left behind but there would be no living embryo. Consumption of fertility drugs which induce higher levels of hCG also might cause false positive results.
To get accurate results, one has to take multiple tests(preferably 2-5) at different time intervals. If your test turns out to be negative but you still haven’t received your period, you might have to take another test a week later. Although the test can be taken during any time of the day, it is said that the best time to test is early morning as the urine is more concentrated and hormones levels will be higher, and thus sensitive to detection.
3) There are different types of pregnancy test kits
There are a few variations of pregnancy test kits available in the market. These include-
- Standard kits: These are the ones that show results by changing color of the strip.
- Digital kits: These pregnancy test kits have a screen on which printed letters that either read out ‘pregnant’ or ‘not pregnant’ appear. Some of them use other symbols which are usually mentioned on the instructions leaflet. Digital tests are more expensive than standard kits but are more accurate and facilitate the clear reading of results which the standard kits sometimes fail to provide one with.
Variations also exist in the way urine is collected by the kit. While the most common type of pregnancy test kit comes with a test strip or dipstick, a few brands also offer a second type which comes with a urine collection cup.
4) There is a difference between ovulation predictor kits and pregnancy test kits
Ovulation predictor kits and pregnancy test kits work in different ways. While the former observes an increase in the luteinizing hormone, which occurs before a woman ovulates, the latter looks for increase in HCG levels. Although ovulation predictor kits are used by women to test whether they are ovulating or not, they can also be used as pregnancy test kits because both of these hormones work similarly in the body. However, if you decide to use an ovulation predictor kit to detect pregnancy, it would be better to confirm the result by using a pregnancy test kit itself.
5) If you are confused, visit a doctor
If you find the pregnancy test result to be ambiguous, then it is time to visit a doctor. Some situations might create a contradiction between what the test has to say and the way your body behaves. For instance, if your period arrives suddenly but the test you took turns out to be positive, then it’s important to take a blood-based pregnancy test which is more accurate. Similarly, if you are very late on your period but your pregnancy test kit says negative, then you should make an appointment with the OB-GYN. Be sure to get medical attention if it is called for.
Some pregnancy test kits available in the Indian market
Since the past few decades, women have increasingly started to depend on at-home pregnancy test kits rather than clinical tests as the former provide them with comfort and privacy. A number of companies dealing with products related to sexual health and wellness have started manufacturing pregnancy test kits. Here is a list of a few popular brands from which you can choose what suits you best-
1)I Can- I Will Pregnancy Test: Manufactured by Piramal Healthcare Ltd, ‘I Can- I Will Pregnancy Test’ is a one step pregnancy detection kit. It is easily available on online platforms as well as pharmacy outlets. A pack of 3 kits is priced at 144.80/- .
2)Getnews One Step Pregnancy Test: ‘Getnews One Step Pregnancy Test’ is manufactured by Nectar Lifesciences Ltd. A pack of 5 kits is priced at Rs. 350/-. It is commonly available on both online platforms as well as pharmacy outlets.
3)PregaNews Pregnancy Test Strips: This pregnancy test kit is manufactured by Manforce Pharmaceuticals. Each pack kit is priced at Rs. 49/-. You can find it on online stores as well as in pharmacy outlets.
4)Pregakem Pregnancy Detection Kit: This brand is manufactured by Alkem Healthcare Ltd. A pack of 5 kits is priced at Rs. 228/-. It is selectively available in pharmacy outlets and commonly available on online platforms.
5)First Response Pro Digital Pregnancy Test Kit: This digital pregnancy test kit is Bluetooth enabled and connects with its smartphone app, which provides pregnancy and cycle details. It claims that it can show the results 6 days sooner than the woman’s missed period. Each kit is priced at Rs. 1452/-. It is only available on online platforms and not pharmacy outlets.
About the writer:
Purnima P.V is pursuing History(Hons) from Miranda House, University of Delhi. Although a huge history buff, sociology is her one true love. She is also a photographer by passion. She describes herself as an ambivert, an amateur traveler, an avid reader with a special interest in the genre of fictional non-fantasy, a politically opinionated feminist, and an ally as well as a member of the LGTBQIA community.